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Little Canada Lowell, MA

When Lowell’s Little Canada neighborhood was torn down in 1964 to make way for urban redevelopment, it represented the end of an era. “L’ptit Canada” was home to the descendants of French Canadian mill workers who had settled in Lowell at the turn of the century, and its 325 buildings were populated by over 2500 French Canadians who owned the plurality of the 110 apartments, restaurants, and businesses in the area. It was a hub of French Canadian culture in the heart of the city; there were French Canadian bookstores, social clubs, churches, and schools. It had also been home to Lowell’s first post office and city hall, as well as the Lowell Day Nursery, which was one of the oldest child care centers in the United States.

The neighborhood arose in large part by Samuel Marin, one of the pioneer French Canadians in Lowell who came in 1857 and was employed by a Yankee dry goods firm. In 1865, he was hired by the textile corporations to recruit French-Canadian families from Quebec to work in the mills. His connections with the mill owners and subsequently the Locks and Canals Corporation allowed him to be the first developer of a large vacant area near the Lawrence Mills that became known as L’Ptit Canada – Little Canada. L’Ptit Canada became the Plymouth Rock of Franco life in Lowell. It was here that giant tenement blocks were constructed which housed scores of immigrant families, eventually creating the most densely populated living area in the United States except in parts of Brooklyn. With the decrease of the textile industry beginning in the 1920s, Little Canada, like other areas of Lowell, took on a well-worn look. In response to these conditions during the post-war era, urban renewal began to take off throughout the country and Lowell was no exception to this rule. In many ways, Lowell was a model for future urban redevelopment projects, because it was the first city to complete a commercial urban renewal project where the City used eminent domain to seize property from the private sector, and then sell it back to the private sector. The Church Street urban redevelopment project, which had been spearheaded by Union National Bank president Homer Bourgeois, and city manager Frank Barrett was the prototype model, and proved to be a groundbreaking.

Despite the election of anti-urban renewal city councilors in 1961, the project, named the Northern Canal Urban Renewal Project, went ahead. One of the main thoroughfares going through the area, Moody Street, had earned a reputation for being a hub of crime, gambling, and prostitution, both during WWII and afterwards, and City Hall was eager to wipe the slate clean. Despite the efforts of some Little Canada residents to “hold out”, the project went ahead. The primary beneficiary of this demolition was Lowell Technological Institute, one of the schools that eventually merged into the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which used the land for erecting new dormitories and classrooms. The rest of the land not used by Lowell Tech was turned over to commercial business.

But even though the neighborhood was torn down, the memories of Little Canada have continued. In 1977, a monument was erected at the corner of Aiken and Hall Streets which was comprised of a granite stone which came from the foundation of one of the demolished apartment blocks. The monument was established to recognize the “hard working French Canadians (who) came to fill the mills of Lowell and build a tradition of faith, generosity, and pride” and listed all the streets erased from the map of urban renewal. The monument heralds to its visitors the call of Je Me Souviens – Lest We Forget.

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Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 117 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Dufresne's Market 268 Aiken Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street between Ward and Cheever Streets.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Club de Citoyens Americans, 518 Suffolk Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Northern Canal project sign.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Aerial View Of Little Canada.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Corner of Aiken Street and Cheever Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Aerial View Of Little Canada.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 121-127 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street Demolition Aftermath.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street between Ward and Cheever Streets.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachussets--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Tucker Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street Apartment Demolition.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 117 and 111 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Looking at Southwick Hall from Cheever Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Ford Street looking towards Little Canada.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Loomfixer's Club off of Dodge Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street Apartment Demolition.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 35 Melvin Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Looking at Little Canada from Pawtucketville.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street looking west including Marquis Market.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone property map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Jack's Used Cars and Parts, 45 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Curran-Morton of Lowell, 70 Tremont Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Looking at Melvin Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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View of Hall Street between Tucker and Pawtucket Streets from across the Finnish garage.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 35 Melvin Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Jack's Used Cars and Parts Junkyard, 45 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street project sign.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Twilight of Little Canada.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Left to right: Marty Lydon, Stanley Boczko, Governor John Volpe, Sam Pinanski, State Senator John E. Harrington, Jr., Mayor Ellen Sampson, Homer Bourgeois
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Northern Canal from the High Bridge on Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Urban planning master model.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 85 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street Demolition Aftermath.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Pawtucket Street Demolition Aftermath.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Burning home debris behind 450 Aiken Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Gerard "Yogi" Drouin
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Demolition of Little Canada.
Topics: Little Canada, Lowell (Mass.)
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Gerard "Yogi" Drouin
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Demolition of Little Canada.
Topics: Little Canada, Lowell (Mass.)
Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Jack's Used Cars and Parts, 45 Pawtucket Street Demolition Aftermath.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Jack Tavares in the middle.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Burning home debris behind 450 Aiken Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: Little Canada home debris.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone building and land use map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by George of Lowell
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: 85 Pawtucket Street.
Topics: Urban renewal--Lowell--Massachusetts, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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The 1964 Lowell Redevelopment Authority annual report.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Photograph: Little Canada Lowell, MA: City Planner Charlie Zetteck and City Manager Frank Barrett.
Topics: Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Lowell, umass lowell, uml
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone proposed zoning map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
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Northern Canal Zone underground utilities sewer and water lines map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone land acquisition map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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The 1961 Lowell Redevelopment Authority annual report.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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The 1962 Lowell Redevelopment Authority annual report.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone redevelopment project street improvements plan map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone underground utilities adjustments plan map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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Selections of comparable property sales information related to the Little Canada urban redevelopment program.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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The 1960 Lowell Redevelopment Authority annual report.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone land use map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Modification to Northern Canal Zone property line map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone existing zoning map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone land disposition map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone area boundaries map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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Complete text of the final project report for the Northern Canal Zone urban redevelopment project.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone building and property lines map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Charles M. Zettek
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Change in downtown Lowell assessments between 1940-1959.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Redevelopment Authority
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The 1959 Lowell Redevelopment Authority annual report.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada
Little Canada Lowell, MA
by Lowell Housing Authority
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Northern Canal Zone building with deficiencies map.
Topics: Lowell (Mass.), Little Canada